February 18th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

What is migraine with aura?

KCBS reporter Serene Branson suffered a migraine with aura when she started to garble her words while covering the Grammy Awards Sunday night.

Aura may sound magical, but it’s far from it.

Migraines with auras can cause a variety of sensations.  This could include visual disturbances such as flashes of light, zigzagging patterns or even blind spots.  It could make the person feel numb or feel tingles in parts of the body.  As it did in Branson’s case, it could include speech problems and confusion.The signs could be confused with a stroke.  The link between stroke and migraine isn't clearly understood, but it could be connected to changes in the blood vessels or blood flow in the brain.

And women who have migraines with auras are at greater risk for strokes, according to a 2009 study.

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    I started getting ocular migraines without pain about once every year, starting 11 years ago after a very traumatic event. They seem to occur more often during stress. I also have noticed that my vision is a bit noisier and less clear over all, especially in fluorescent lighting.

    I have research it a lot, and it appears that for those of us that get the ocular symptoms, there is something going on in our brain called a 'spreading depression.' It is a very slow depolarization wave (about 3mm/min) that spreads throughout the visual cortex. This is why it always starts in the peripheral and moves into the center of the eye, taking about an hour to happen, and then leaving – because the different parts of you vision are layed out along a line in your brain. I wonder if people who get numbness starting at the distal end of their limbs and proceeding to their face get the same thing, except it is in the somatic sensory part of the brain. Look up the humuculus' on google to see what I am talking about.'

    March 9, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. paula t

    i have migranes with auras at least 2 times per week. i take floricet for them or if they are real bad i end up going home and getting in bed. i have the numbness and nasua, sometimes vomiting. i have had them so bad i can bite my tongue and draw blood and not feel it. i also have ra(rheumatoid arthritis) and high blood pressure. people who dont have migranes cannot understaned how bad they can be. i have had these headaches for years and i have been told i will have to live with them. i have never seen a neorologists because frankly cant afford to so i just suffer.

    March 9, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura H

      Hi Paula. You may want to try slow release Magnesium to reduce the number of migraines you get. I have read a lot about the benefits and just bought some yesterday. The slow release is apparently the best kind as it is less likely to cause digestive upset.

      March 9, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      I have migraines with the same symptoms as you, and have had them since my son's birth in 1981. Before that, I had migraines with the intense pain and sometimes nausea since before the age of 5. After childbirth, the pain I experience is much less, but the near-stroke symptoms are more varied and disturbing in the long run because both my grandmothers, also migraine sufferers, passed away after multiple devastating strokes. As I get older, the migraines are happening more often and the seasonal depression I've suffered since the 1980s has turned into generalized depression. It's very scary.

      I take Maxalt for the migraines, and that is the most effective medication I have tried. Laying down in a darkened room is still necessary until the medication takes effect, but the time-out doesn't last nearly so long as it did, although the generalized muscle weakness still lasts for several hours. If your doctor prescribes a medication for your migraines, some drug companies will send the meds directly to you at low or no cost. It's worth contacting the manufacturer of the drug that works for you. As my Mom used to say, "Ask. The worst they can do is to say, 'No,' and that's no worse than you have now."

      March 9, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  3. Buffalo Chiropractor


    Great article! When dealing with a headache the at home conservative steps should be considered prior to masking the problem with drugs. Proper hydration is key. Rule of thumb is half your body weight (lbs) in oz of water. A daily stretching program is a must. I would search for neck stretches and mis back stretches. The trap muscle is often involved in headache complaints. If you still can not find a natural solution have a consultation by your local chiropractor. Chiropractic is extremely successful relieving the cause for headaches.

    April 7, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Headache Home Remedies

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  5. Rheavent Bibyy

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    July 30, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. beans

    Eesh. I get these kind of migraines often; I used to get them 2-4x per week and got extremely, extremely sick. I don't get them as frequently or as intensely but I still have moments where I cannot speak without excessive stuttering and I can't walk on my own and need to be assisted. I just fall over, like a marionette puppet. It's very scary and can be debilitating.

    February 5, 2014 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • beans

      She's a very brave person to face the public and to have just powered through her report anyways. Not many people understand the severity of migraine unless they experience it themselves.

      February 5, 2014 at 02:55 | Report abuse |
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